tv John Mc Laughlins One on One WHUT July 28, 2010 6:00pm-6:30pm EDT
the first u.s. woman president. from michelle in chile to angela in germany and ellen swearing in was held on the grounds of the capitol, which just a few years ago was a battle zone in presidents and heads of states? well, according to a new cbs poll, a phenomminally hig number of americans say the would vote for a qualified woman running for president. 92%. indeed, many believe the united states has alreadyge period of time have held presidential policy.
so, is america now ready for u.s. president who say woman? >> we'll ask the author of the widely read and intriguing book, about the wives of american presidents, all of them titled rating the first lady's. john benjamin roberts th second. if. for such a small if i live to a hundred. if social security isn't enough. if my heart gets broken. if she says yes. we believe if should never hold you back.
if should be managed with a plan that builds on what you already have. together we can create a personal safety net, a launching pad, for all those brilliant ifs in the middle of life. you can call on our expertise and get guarantees for the if in life. after all, we're metlife. one-on-one is brought to you isy month. why don't we have a woman president in the unite states? why haven't we had one? >> i think the answer to that is simply that american women may not be ready for it. a majority of the voters ar fee may president we would probably have one. i'm being a little bit flip. the thuth is we are not a and women have not really focused on politics unti the last couple of decades so we haven't developed a team that can move up to theprey >> what do you make of the
women occupy seats in the united states congress? compared to the rest of the pretty much near the bottom. something like number 6 around the world in terms of that women are not terribly for office when that changes, we'l >> you written a fascinating book here and it's hard to >> thank you >> i managed to put it down. because i wanted to take some notes. your central proposition o the book is that a lot of americans, perhaps most americans, by far most, regard first ladies as kind of glitzy devoted to charitable undertakings. involved in soft power issues like literacy. that they really are
cunning. they are really cunning cats, so to speak. and they are knowledgeable about their husband's they are tactically proficient. executive -- defacto executive power. is that trueal power >> i think the stereotype of out to debunk, the idea that house hostess. she sets fashion trends, she arrangements at stat she decides how to decorat the white house, what china to choose. stereotype that in looking at the historical research doesn't hold up. going back to the very first, first lady, martha washing tong and the second were involved in cabinet decisions, involved in campaigning. these women were political what i found in my book i that was pretty much true
exceptions throughou history. >> who held executive >> i certainly edith wilson woodrow wilson was laid up with what was probably a country. walked into him where he was with him and would come out with documents or instructions she said we from him and tell the cabinet what to do. wisdoms. for example the league o nations. >> one of his most important priorities after world war one was to get the league of nations established so there would never again be a global conflict. unfortunately he botched the politics of it the speaker of the senat came to -- the senate
majority leader came to hi and told him he needed to compromise with the republican isolationists i he wanted to get the leagu of nations treaty ratified. wilson didn't want to compromise but edith wilso did and she told him, yo need to do this if you want to get this treaty approved. unfortunately for him he didn't listen to her advic and the treaty failed t pass the senate. so his most important domestic priority international priority in the second term was lost. >> which one of the first ladies shared the power of the presidency so there was a distribution and a defacto sense of the power a copresident?e quite a few. the earliest one was sarah poke. sarah poke was james polk' wife he was a one term president. he deliberately intended t run for only one term in the 1840s. it was the period of manifest destiny whe werst. during the poke presidency
and sarah poke was his political partner. they had a very unusual prenuptual agreement when he fro posed marriag she told him that she would agree to marry him if heale and you are not let their honeymoon interfere with his campaigning. she helped him write rallies. she was a partner all the way through. >> you instruct thursday rating of the first performance? >> it's an interesting pole. the sienna college has a research institute, wife of the one of the professors there came up with the idea of rating fir ladies. the research institute done ratings of presidents for number of years now and first ladies too. so they -- the professor there came up with a system, that range from a first ladies intellect and contribution to the nation, education, impact on
of criteria are used t evaluate the first lady. >> including influence on >> yes. and being a woman in her own write. >> 37 first ladies and the number of presidents. why is that? >> there have been deaths i >> who remarried? >> a number of them remarried. grover cleveland remarried in office. >> was that the 21-year-old? >> yes, for instancis cleveland. >> howeled was he? >> he was around 50 at the time. >> was that a successfu marriage? it stunned the nation. it was a absolutely spectacular secret marriag house. he courted her. she was the daughter of -- >> what do you mean by ward? >> he was her legal guardia from the time that she was she was the daughter of a law partner of his and whe the man died he ended up
adopting her as it was >> yes president at the time. she grew up and he did. but he carried out the romance secretly >> was she a loving wife? >> they were in love all th way through to his death >> he eventually died of -- was he ill during the presidency >> he was. hoo he had cancer and had to have part of his jaw removed. >> how was that undertaken? made for him to go to was set up on a yacht of a friend and he was secretl taken to this yacht. the public was never informed he had cancer or the operation had happene engineer all that? >> she did. conceal it >> was he disfigured? >> no.
prosthetic jaw that functioned perfectly well. >> not bad in those days. >> pretty extraordinari considering this is 1899. >> how is it that 37 place back edition of the book. by mary links on she was quite corrupt was she not? >> she was a piece of work she was extremely corrupt >> in what respect? >> money >> she was a spendaholic. the same way that amelda markose bought shoes, marry lincoln would by clothes, in one period about 3 months of glorfs. spending and in great debt as a result of that. >> was she suffering from any neurological disorde
psychotic condition? >> delusionons of grandier. she believed she was destined to marry a she had two suitors, steven doug andlas abraham lincoln who were rivals. >> was she faith full to lincoln. >> as far as anyone knows. she appears to have been so en rappatured with the idea of becoming mrs. president which is the way she liked to be referred to and ofte signed her name. >> you haven't reassigned reagan's position. is that under the basis o >> yes >> they are constantly updating the poles? >> they do update the poll. they don't update it academics? >> this is an expert poll >> you know that academics tilt to the sflest yes. >> you think they are taking a swipe at nancy by putting her in the 36 position out of 37? when i wrote the book, i argued her rating was wa
low are than it ought to b and it was time to reevaluate how important she had been in the reaga presidency >> you worked for rornd what did you do for him? >> i started working in his before he ran for president and worked on the 80y and your campaigns and speech writing office >> how would you describ office and what? >> domestic policy. ideas to him? >> yes. international strategy -- politica consultant >> i've been a political now. >> and you do great production work for the mclaughlin group and othert? >> correct. >> now you know nancy reagan firsthand. >> yes. of her influ
accomplishments of his administration >> you think she served also to strengthen his spine or do you think his spine was quite strong independently? the velvet glove. she needed to be. he would be the good cop she was the bad cop when it came to dealing with staff. >> do you think they ever had disagreements? something. >> sure. >> did she take any negative position on anything that he decision-making process an when they made a decisio they stuck with it jointly. she would make her views known. a good friend of mineaid fo about a four-year period and that gave me a real good window into the relationship between nancy, the way the white house is run, the schedule >> you think that her influence over ronald regan
our current president? the -- this presidency, laura bush is very muc involved in the details of policy and decision-making in president bush's speeches >> there are differences o opinion at least their public expression of their opinion. for example in the matter of fetal tissue >> right stem-cell research is one we know as far as the public is concerned they differ takes a public position dictated by politics or by his perception that he must the people and maybe he's on that side of the issue polling. but let's assume he is. what's the question i want to ask as a result of that? is he as capable, they are both capable of -- he serves as a buffer in a sense to
position on the on the usen poin of relatey >> it's true and often true that first ladies will tak a position publicly that differs from the president contrived and sometimes they do it for genuine sflen that was true with jimmy carter and roslyn? >> it was most true with betty ford and jerrold ford. outspoken on issues such as abortion, drug use, and she would take possessions tha to his policy positions. >> that was not sufficient protection for him to win the presidency >> no. i'm afraid the ford model doesn't stand scrutiny very you listed the first institute, eleanor roosevelt and you commented on her on a rather sensitive area.
son, franklin, jr. in 1916 after 11 years of her congegal duties completed. longer wanted to have intimate relations witcer. it would last a lifetime. it was lucy mercer in fact, not eleanor roosevelt at nen 45. separately. it's been said that you have roosevelt was lesbian and that is also brought up a an assertion by you. are you sure of all thi data? >> i'm fairly confident.
you know there was a eleanor roosevelt written b blaven cook and she was the evidence thattel by sexual orientation if no a lesbian one. >> letters >> based largeor upi. she was a wire reporter. and she began covering her when she was still in new york and later continued into the white house and in in the white house >> which came first? mercer the alleged by you roosevelt, or hick ocnating part of the early life i'm interested in perhaps doing something more on, prab book in and of itself, going
a separate house which was the roosevelt family estate and lived with two other women in this house at a marriage and in fact fdr referred to the house as the honeymoon cottage and the love nest. happy living with these tw years. in her separate house at the family estate. >> that doesn't necessarily mean there was a karnal relationship among thein terms are necessarily carnal? >> some of the letters are are not. of children that were born of eleanor roosevelt contradicts in itself your thinking she had 5 children? >> i think as the movie
brokeback mountain showed us all, in earlier air as who were gay or lesbian had to part might be to have normal looking family and social pretenses do you think thank lin had an eye for the trim ankle before he saw some of trace of what you're talking about in eleanor to go back to that question? he was 36 by my calculation and mercer was 27.'r talking about 1916,1917,1918 >> very early. >> then you point out tha in 1945 when he died and you misincorrectly said he died in warm springs, west virginia where it was warm >> that's correct. >> that's an error in th book and it's a common erro because there are warm springs in west virginia. and i've seen that in any material. but just to ease the blo
so you say that lucy merce was his mistress for life. from 1916 or thereabouts in warm springs from a >> yes. hemorrhage. >> and point of fact, she married ruth ford who was a bachelor in washington and quite well-to-do. believe that the mistress status was continue us because ruth ford died and she was a free agent fo about 3-4 years before roosevelt died am i correct? >> you are correct about that. >> what's to make you thin she was continuously serving as a mess tress to him? >> their relationshi several different phase that he did have polio and that was disabling in som sfloopts they kept in touch. >> absolutely. >> that's a strong -- >> that's a friendship. >> at least a friendship.
bearing in mind this was an era when one could not easily have a relationshi especially in politics. everything had to be kept subterranean there is a lot of hidde history. wasn't at his side and the time of his death? >> i have no reason to doubt she loved him sin skerly. i have no reason to doubt that at all but i do think they were two people who were driven to be in together because of their political commitment >> they each cheated on each other? >> yes. >> did any other president of first ladies cheat on each other >> really. >> absolutely. i mean with the johnson presidency, lin don johnson quite openly flaunted his mistresses where did he do that? >> beginning back -- >> where >> in text andas washington d.c.
>> i thought it was an outlying about 65 miles from washington. wasn't that true >> some of their weekend get relationship that went o right under her nose their same social circles and with friends and kennedy is a great champ of this but i think this is -- >> you mean judith, marilyn and the harding presidenc is a great example of this. harding or his wife? >> warren harding for sure. his wife probably not. but warren harding had a blonde teenaged mistress wh her name was nan britain. way before that he had an affair with his next door neighbor's wife who his own wife was hospitalized for months with kidney disease. >> do you think this is a requisite to becom president or first lady to indulgences on the side? politics --
>> what about even befor that? what about libido of people who are character wise and vigorous? >> aren't they that way t get to left we go too far without saying things that ought to be said about eleanor roosevelt.ry together during th depression in part? visiting work project administration sites and people came to be accustome to the fact that eleanor roosevelt would show up. a great story about her stopping at a site in california and walks acros people who are living in hooverville and they sit they acted like it was the most normal thing on earth
after the people white house and the forma duties of quote/unquote a woman president. a woman first lady. a female >> right. what? >> social activists >> that would be eleanor roosevelt who by the way also used to visit the troops as you point out to >> she was fearless in world war 2. she flew into combat zones, places that were being bombed to visit the troops >> herbert hoover has a poor reputation because of the depression. but maybe that is quite undeserved but his wife, >> i liked lou a lot.
studied geeologiy and mining engineering at a tim when - >> did she go into the mountains to did herrifle headee air as >> we only have a few seconds. wasn't pat nixon a ver stronghe helped write speeche and craft papers and came from a very humbl background born in a minin town in were any of the first because she would go int fits at the time and for a long time people thought it was mental disorder.
>> depression.e whole 4 years basically in depressio trying to contact the spirits of her dead children through sayances. quite a tragic figure. >> do you think that whe all is said and done we will have a female as president of the united states? >> i think we will i think we have got enough talented women in politics now who have got the requisite experience to be that they are ready to lead that hasn't been true until recently >> what is holding it back? back is that voters haveerne on the commander-in-chie are women ready to lead a performed like a general in the balkans crisis and